Week(s) In Review, July 15-29: The Open

WeekInReview2.jpgA busy two weeks but your comments were focused largely on just a few key stories: drug testing in golf, Hoylake/links golf, and Tiger's 2-iron/3-wood strategy.

(For all of the Open Championship coverage, you can go here, and if you missed the IM interview with SI's Michael Bamberger, check it out here.)

Regarding drug testing and the R&A's plan to test players at the World Amateur Team Championship, reader Dave writes: "The oldtimers played with massive hangovers all the time, we're switching gears today, instead of alcohol it's human growth hormone. Love AC's approach to the topic of illegal, AC i believe the author was talking illegal in the sense of DEA and no prescription. One has to love these golf egoists, they really believe the sport they love is above the laws of the land. See the Casey Martin US Supreme Court decision."

Ryan writes, "When is the bloody damn equipment testing going to be concluded? It's been 3.5 years already, wankers! Golf has evolved into a Herculean sport, exponential advantages are favored to the crushers, what's in their blood, we already know what's in their clubs?"

Lefty: "Golf is very much about flexibility, particularly in the torso and spine. A little while ago, Sammy Sosa injured his back during the peak of the steroid scandal in baseball, and many said that back injuries and loss of flexibility in that area can be attributed to steroid use. Therefore, why would a golfer take steroids. The beauty of golf is that flexibility is more useful than muscle (look at Flabby Phil, who hits the ball 300 yards, purely because of how much he can twist his spine)."

Regarding drug testing and the PGA Tour's odd stance, Steve writes, "the PGA Tour started down this slippery slope when it implemented testing of equipment to ensure fairness, now they must do the same with drug testing. Anything less than testing for drugs would be highly hypocritical on the Commissioner's part. Which way do you think Commissioner Finchem will go? On second thought, don't answer that."

On the subject of Tiger Woods only hitting driver once en route to his Open Championship win, Rick says this "is all the evidence the RnA USGA need. The distance disparity has become a joke, and rendering famous golf courses obsolete. If there really is a problem between the governing bodies and the manufacturers, and lawsuits are waiting in the wings, bifurication is the simplest solution...Evidence, evidence, evidence......there has been so much evidence the past few years that all of you have egg on your face."

Van says, "He's been fighting drivers for a while. It's been too obvious in 2006. I believe the iron strategy for this Open was formed immediately after the Winged Foot cut. Nike's gotta step up. I don't think this player wants to continue his career as an Iron Byron.

Smolmania responded, "Amen Van. That Sasquatch monstrosity just ain't doing the job. . . I don't know how he can stand to look at that blocky thing behind the ball. Wanna bet that Tiger hasn't had one of those 905s on the back of the range at Isleworth? It will be very interesting to see if he can just hit it in the fairway with 2 iron and 3 wood at Medinah."

On another post, ReverendTMac writes, "When you put the strategy in context of rule number one of Hoylake - don't put it in the bunkers - and the fact that he said he was driving it 400 yards in his practice rounds - it's just pure logic...I don't put a lot of creedence in Player's comment that the fans want to see him hit driver, either. I'd like to think that the fans wanted to see him hit good shots, and the club is almost immaterial at that point."

Kevin: "It was interesting in today's round that unless you were in perfect position in the fairway, you could not get much closer to the hole with a wedge than you could with a long iron. Tiger beat 'em between the ears."

Andrew: "I don't think Hoylake tested Tiger with the driver--don't get me wrong, I liked the course okay. But I'm not sure that it was the ultimate test either. I don't mind -18 winning but at the same time I wouldn't want the US Open to turn into a birdie route like this was for the better part of 3 days either. Each is fine in it's turn."

RM: "For the life of me I can't understand why there can't be a ball roll back. Tiger adjusted his game in 1 week to playing a different way, although with his clubs not balls. But it should not be a tough transition back for any level player. And the manufacturers are going to sell balls one way or another. We buy balls, we lose them and then we buy some more. We each buy the best ball available at the time to suit our needs. If all the manufacturers care about is money, then why would they care if they sell 25 million units that fly 300 yards versus 25 million units that fly 275 yards?"

On Hoylake's deliciously crunchy playing surface, JPB wrote: "In the US I think people will have to get used to drier conditions, and I am looking forward to it. Changing weather and stress on the water supply, at least out west will dictate drier golf. I would love to see new grasses and maintenance practices that lead to firmer conditions. Where I live there hasn't been much water for a few years and the court battles to shut people off are starting...Perhaps the last few years of no water is waking people up a bit. Particularly in the west I think things will have to change in terms of what golfers accept. The game will improve too.

I asked if the R&A's borderline hole locations over the weekend artificially inflated Hoylake's stock. Scotty: "When a course rewards a variety of different playing styles for strong play and separates the class players to the top of the board, what more does anybody want? That was a helluva fun course, if not the most beautiful, and I hope it becomes a rota regular (and I will bet you anything it's par 71 next time)."

John Gorman: "Gary Player's comments were spot on. For a player (even the best) to be able to hit 3-woods and 2-irons all week and lap the field on a 7,200+ yard course is insane. A few years ago 7,200 yards was diabolical! As for Hoylake specifically, it did fine, but not great. It'll be interesting to see how some of the other courses on the Rota hold up to technology in the next few years. Some of them haven't been tested yet, as the Open hasn't visited the courses in several years."

A bizarre Carlos Monarrez column complaining about links golf (who has done some fine reporting on the distance issue), got plenty of people riled up.

cmoore: "That's like me, a lawyer, trying to write an opinion on whether a bridge meets engineering standards. In the end, the author seems to suggest that the world would have been better off without golf at all. Someone please take his laptop away."

a.c.: "and people wonder why Americans are often perceived as "ignorant".

Glyn: "What in the world is wrong with watching play on a different type of golf course once in a while? I can watch the "normal" kind every day of the week. I like seeing something different for a change."

So did I. It's rather sad to think we have to wait a year to see golf like we saw at Hoylake. Hey there's always the Ryder...oh wait, what was I thinking!